Live Review: The Butterfly Effect, Wayside @ Forum Melbourne

18 February 2024 | 1:40 pm | Rod Whitfield

The production is huge, the sound is huge, and tonight’s 90-minute set truly gives the fans every penny of their money’s worth. 

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect (Source: Supplied)

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Just across the way, a massive American pop artist plays to an AFL Grand Final-sized crowd at the MCG. At the same time, at the Forum, around a thousand people show up for an Aussie rock act who are an absolute household name and worshipped within these walls but are more or less unheard of without.

The Butterfly Effect have selected their only support act for this historic evening very nicely indeed: Wayside initially seem just a smidgeon nervous and overawed by the venue, the size of the crowd and the gravity of the occasion, but they soon warm to their task, growing beautifully in energy and confidence over the course of their 45-minute set. 

Their sound is interesting, deftly juxtaposing 80s new romantic stylings (especially vocally) with hard Aussie alternative rock, all powered by a thumping rhythm section – the bass guitar is fat and pumping. The drummer appears to be having an absolute blast as he slams out the grooves. The overall effect is that of powerhouse rock, with the point of difference emanating from the vocals being more breathy, floaty and ethereal than you might expect from a band such as this. 

Wayside’s set features some sweet colour, shade, and dynamics, too, ranging from massive walls of driving rock to more moody, ambient pieces, and tonight, they provide just about the ideal warmup for tonight’s profoundly anticipated main event.

Twenty years. In fact, it’s 21 now since the release of The Butterfly Effect’s monumental and universally (within the Aussie alternative music scene, anyway) adored debut album, Begins Here. Tonight, we are here to celebrate, honour, and cherish it in the best way possible – live and loud in a fabulous, packed-to-the-rafters venue. A venue choc-full of true fans, most of whom know and belt out every dark and cathartic lyric of this trailblazing piece of art. 

Their set opens with a dramatic rear-screen projection segment featuring some of the key national and international events of the last 20 years or so. From the opening strains of the album’s aptly titled first track, Intro, it is clear that no expense has been spared in bringing an epic show to the punters on this very special tour. The production is huge (for an artist who isn’t Taylor Swift anyway), the sound is huge (especially the drums!), and tonight’s 90-minute set truly gives the fans every penny of their money’s worth. 

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The mood onstage and in the crowd is pure exuberance as the band slam out the dark and affecting songs of Begins Here in track order. But this is no verbatim regurgitation of a celebrated past release, no routine knocking out of a much-loved album to milk its adoration - the album’s 45-minute length extends to an hour as the band injects new life into the old songs. For example, the sublime Beautiful Mine receives all-new acoustic and cello-enhanced treatment, which goes down an absolute treat.

They have hired a keyboardist for this tour, which adds further dark ambience to these already rivetingly atmospheric songs. We get more acoustic guitars and/or the cello on the final four cuts from the album. And TBE play and sing these two-decade-old songs like the band members are all hungry 23-year-olds again and the album was released yesterday, singer Clint Boge in particularly scintillating frontman and vocal fettle. 

After an hour of Begins Here, the band leave the stage, only to return a few moments later to smash out no fewer than four fabulous encore songs drawn from the rest of their illustrious catalogue, the only minor disappointment being the lack of material from their excellent ‘comeback’ album from 2022, IV

What this band’s future plans are is unclear, but even if they disband again at the end of this tour, they have completed one hell of a mighty comeback – as stated, their comeback album and subsequent tour were fantastic. This current journey into joyous nostalgia has been nothing short of a celebratory triumph. The uproarious and unbridled response they receive from their Melbourne fans tonight, plus the fact that they have sold out two nights at the mighty Forum, is all the proof you need of that.

Hopefully, they decide to keep going, create and release more new music and continue to tour – not only have they proved in the last couple of years that there is plenty of creative life left in this old butterfly yet, but also that there is massive demand and a legion of fans still ravenous for their music and live show. 

Fingers crossed . . .